Just when you think you’ve nailed it down, they drag you back in. The slow death of Gordon Brown, his government and the entire Labour Party of the UK continued apace, with the resignation of more key ministers, prominent among them Hazel Blears, green-eyed red-headed Yorkie pixie, and one of the most annoying people in the labour movement anywhere in the world.
Blears is, or was, Communities secretary [minister], a job that hitherto involved rounding up the multicultural vote, and keeping the ethnic peak bodies happy. After the 7/7 bombing, the inept Glasgow airport terror attack, and a variety of bullshit terror plots caught in the “pre-planning” stage (i.e. bullshit in coffee shops, picked up by bugs), the job changed — it was selling to white swinging voters the idea that Labour actually wasn’t prey to multicultural political correctness and was doing something about enforcing “British values” — while still sucking up to the multicultural communities and keeping the ethnic peak bodies happy.
Blears is not an unimpressive person, a working class gal who made her way up through the party, and through a deal of Northern sexism. Once John Prescott left the room, she became new Labour’s connection to old Labour, a conduit whereby sceptical remnant left-wing working class Labour groups — still necessary to get out the [voluntary] vote — could be persuaded that the game was still worth the candle.
However, Blears destroyed much of her cred — first by running a campaign for the deputy leadership of the party, which involved releasing a range of Hazel Blears merchandise (mugs, carry bags etc), and secondly by being so slavishly devoted to Tony Blair’s neo-colonial adventures that any sense of her being an independent presence within the new Labour cabal was lost.
Finally, when weary exasperation with politicians had reached new levels (this was before the expenses rorts were exposed, taking exasperation and loathing into the exosphere) she pissed absolutely everyone off by blaming bloggers and journalists for the “atmosphere of cynicism” around politics. That implicitly totalitarian thought was rendered all the more foolish when the expenses scandal was broken by blogger Guido Fawkes, dynamiting Parliament one more time.
Blears smelt death around Brown months ago, and published an article slating the Labour leadership for its failure to erm lead — and, when accused of unhelpful disloyalty purported to be shocked, shocked that anyone would think of her as less than fully signed up to wossisname, Gordon Brown.
But all of that might have been grist to the trouble oop mill, had she too not been caught in the maw of the expenses scandal, with a complex (and by now clearly standard) second house swap, so that what was really her first house was being generously funded by the taxpayer – as were some nights in upmarket boutique hotels, not at all the damp B n Bs that northern, leftist, labour politicians are supposed to stay at.
When it was revealed that she had used the rules to avoid capital gains tax on a house sale, she boldly waved a cheque for the thirteen thousand quid owing on national TV — trying to look honest, but succeeding only in appearing aristocratic deigning to pay tax like the (non-physical) little people. When it was revealed (probably through a Downing St leak to nobble her) that she’d use the trick twice, she had nowhere to go but out, on her own timetable.
Thus her resignation appears to have been both calculated, and also done on the spur of the moment, during some angry meetings with Brown, who accused her, both privately and publicly, of rank disloyalty and positioning. She quit after a heated meeting with Brown on ministerial matters — but the whole thing appeared to have been on the cards for weeks.
Brown is bad enough, but it’s people like Blears that have genuinely killed the heart of the British Labour Party. Like some old East German apparatchik she really can’t see what she’s done wrong – she applies the old circular logic that if a) she is the representative of the workers and b) she carves off a bit of fat for herself then c) the act of carving off a bit of fat for yourself must, by definition, be in the interests of the workers.
Like a midget Northern parrot she’s learnt the language of communication, connection etc etc etc — talking to the people, communicating with them. Everything but actually acting in their interests, which would involve championing a social democratic, anti-war, politically liberal agenda — everything she hasn’t done.
Post-resignation she noted: “In this next phase of my political life, I am redoubling my efforts to speak up for the people of Salford [Manchester West] as their member of parliament. Most of all, I want to help the Labour party to reconnect with the British people, to remind them that our values are their values, that their hopes and dreams are ours too.”
To quote the great Hunter S.T. she’s talking like a farmer with terminal cancer trying to borrow on next year’s crop. There is no next phase of Labour’s political life. Salford’s hopes and dreams are a job, a house not made of chipboard, a school that will get working class kids to college, and a GP that doesn’t require an appointment two weeks in advance. In twelve years all Blears and co have delivered is a hollowed-out economy and two useless imperial wars. They’ve screwed the pooch for good and all, though in Blears’s case it’s a dachshund.